I apologize for the recent lack of posts. School has been fairly stressful the past few weeks. Here is my peace offering, a mix of the music I have been listening to of late.

Finals Mix
1. Weed Demon - Wavves
2. Brothersport - Animal Collective
3. Breaking It Up - Lykke Li
4. Ballroom Of Mars - T. Rex
5. Hooves - Bowerbirds
6. Dead Deers & Other Animals - Thanksgiving
7. Remember (Walking In The Sand) - The Shangri-Las
8. Beach Baby - Bon Iver
9. Chain Gang - Sam Cooke
10. Palmitos Park - El Guincho
11. Transmission - Joy Division
12. After Laughter (Comes Tears) - Wendy Rene
13. Nothing Ever Happened - Deerhunter
14. The Garden - Mirah
15. I Don't Wanna (Smoke Marijuana) - Nodzzz
16. 21st Century Pop Song - Hymie's Basement
17. California - Joni Mitchell

I promise more posts to come as soon as I'm on Winter Break!


Ralph Eugene Meatyard easily fits into my top favorite 5 photographers of all time, so it's difficult for me not to make a post comprised solely of his pictures, just because there are so many great ones to choose from.

In his lifetime, Meatyard was an established optometrist in Lexington, Kentucky, married with three children, president of the P.T.A., and coach of the basketball team. This wholesome family man image at first appears incompatible with the darkly atmospheric photographs he took in his free time during the weekends. Upon closer inspection, however, it becomes apparent that it's precisely this seemingly picturesque lifestyle that informs Meatyard's unique artistic vision.

Meatyard reveled in theatricality: his photographs were clearly staged, often employing images of family members and friends in monster masks posing in abandoned mansions and farmhouses or picket-fenced backyards, actors in a southern-gothic drama about those living in the suburban sprawl. The most obvious example of this is his magnum opus, The Family Album of Lucybelle Crater, a photo-series of grotesque masked figures strolling through suburbia, inhabiting the ordinary, everyday world as if even in their abnormality they belonged.

Meatyard's work seems to use this juxtaposition of the placid with the peculiar to make a comment not so much on suburbia itself but rather the interior dramas of those who live in it, metaphysical contemplations on American identity -- what it is to be other, to be similar, to be young or to grow old... These questions of selfhood are never clearly answered. At the same time that Meatyard opens the viewer's eyes to these haunting self-interrogations, so too he clouds their eyes.

Meatyard, like other artistic greats (particularly those featured on this blog, ha ha ha), died young before he hit it big. While he was alive, he never really received recognition outside of the photography world, and found himself disappointed that he never made a significant impact on any large-scale audiences. Rather than mourn the sort of tragic implications of such unrecognized talent, I'll just post some more photos.

MANET, "DEAD MATADOR", 1864-1865

Man oh man, a quick Wikipedia search has just revealed to me this Manet painting, which I'd never seen before. I don't quite know what to make of it yet but I think it's so visually striking. Wowee Zowee!


I don't know a thing about Manet but I think he's brilliant simply on the basis of this one painting. Fell head over heels for it the moment I saw it at the Musée d'Orsay this past summer. I just love that even though he's using these impressionist techniques of kind of soft, blurred brush strokes, without any distinct, defined lines, there's still a sharpness to the painting as a result of the interplay of contrasting colors, shadow and light. It's the kind of paradox you find in the sound of a flute itself -- a sharp, shrill high note that all the while manages to be ambient and resonate and reverberate in the space around it.


I'll start off by saying that the second I saw Egon Schiele's "Seated Woman With Bent Knee", I fell in love.

Schiele's backstory is a peculiar one: dissatisfied by the stuffiness of Vienna's traditional art schools, at age 17 Schiele sought mentorship under Art Nouveau master Gustav Klimt, who not only took Schiele under his wing, but bought some of his drawings, arranged models for him, and introduced him to potential clients. This eventually inspired him to drop out of school and seek out his own artistic vision free from the constraints of conventional art instruction. More specifically, it allowed him to get into some really freaky shit.

For instance, Schiele took up a fascination with pubescent children, particularly young girls, and often had them pose as the subjects of his drawings and paintings. Sure enough, Schiele soon became infatuated with a seventeen-year-old girl named Wally, who was to move into his studio and model for some of his most famous paintings. Schiele and Wally ran away together, staying mainly in small towns peripheral to Vienna. Needless to say, the inhabitants of these towns were none too pleased with Schiele's erratic, bohemian lifestyle. Eventually, their animosity escalated and resulted in a 1912 arrest -- he was charged for seduction and abduction of a young girl below the age of consent. The charges were soon dropped, though he was found guilty of exhibiting erotic drawings in a place where children could readily see them.

In time, Schiele settled down with a nice Protestant girl, Edith Harms, intending to continue his relations with Wally on the side. When Wally caught wind of the marriage, she left and never saw Schiele again. In 1918, a pregnant Edith caught Spanish influenza and died. A devestated Schiele died three days later of the same illness. He was 28 years old.

Part of me is attracted to Schiele's work simply for the fact that his life was so unusual.
But what truly draws me to his artwork is its expressivity -- his technique is visceral, raw, and unrefined, qualities wherein lies all his charm. The pieces are not particularly realistic: backgrounds are left blank, brush strokes clearly visible, lines taper off and are left unfinished... and yet I think its precisely this kind of impulsive resistance to conventional depictions that make the work perhaps more real than any verisimilar, "true-to-life" painting ever could. This reality-grounded viscerality is also mirrored thematically speaking, with pieces focusing on sex, death, identity, self-exploration... Really, Schiele made pieces that reach to the very depths of human experience, allowing for a sort of universalized, timeless body of work that remains relevant nearly 100 years after his death.


I hereby vow to make Dali eyes in as many pictures taken of me as possible.


Working most prolifically between 1975 and 1980, Francesca Woodman left behind a legacy of haunting black-and-white photographs that question notions of female identity, depiction of the female form and the human anatomy, relations between artist and spectator, author and subject, reality and representation...

Woodman's photographs reflect a veritable patchwork of influences ranging from Dada and Surrealism to Gothic Horror, as lone female subjects, often nude, contort their bodies, faces obscured or blurred in motion, in seemingly decrepit or abandoned spaces. However phantasmagorical or unreal the atmospheres created in these photographs are, there is something distinctly anchored in reality about the subjects of Woodman's work (perhaps due the corporeality and tangibility of the nude female figure) which allows for thematic implications that ring true in both an everyday, realist sense as well as on a more metaphysical, spiritual level.

What resonates most for me in Woodman's work is her complete and utter submergence in the artistic process in order to fully explore this idea of female identity. Woodman herself was both photographer and subject in many of her photographs, bearing all both literally and figuratively -- literally in the sense that she presented her naked body to the viewer, figuratively in the sense that once you become object of your own art, there's no backing down: your work is completely personal (really you become your art) and your own problems, vulnerabilities, insecurities, et al. become the very foundation of the artwork which you present to the public to be gawked at and scrutinized.

In fact, even when she wasn't the subject of her own photos, she often employed look-a-likes and doppelgangers who maintained (albeit to a lesser extent) this level of personalization (Now that I think of it, really reminds of Sylvia Plath's Bell Jar...) Speaking of Plath-ian undertones, unfortunately, perhaps as a result of this total exertion of herself into her work, Woodman committed suicide at the age of 22. Years after her demise, her work would finally come to be the subject of the attention it deserves, with a number of posthumous books published and exhibitions traveling across the nation. To this day, Woodman's surreal depictions of troubled young females continue to haunt and inspire art critics and plebeians alike -- unsettling, spectral apparitions of the female selfhood that float in and out of the collective consciousness, hovering over us all like Esther Greenwood's Bell Jar.

And so it begins.

This is a test.

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