Saturday 2nd of December 2023

Even the arts become (always have been) mercenaries of the corporates…


As a former commercial artist/advertiser guru for more than 55 years, Gus knows the pits of corporatism deception. Even great art has always been at the glorious service of kings and the Church.


When photography was invented, there was an accidental form of liberation into an ideal asking social questions. But, apart from rare exceptions, art never left its bourgeois gutter despite all the famous -isms that came and went. The only rebellious art was that of the cartoonists like Gillray and philosophers like Rabelais, Nietzsche, Jung and Voltaire who explained why your delusions were part of a control system, pressing your buttons, like one rings a bell for a Pavlov’s dog to salivate.

This is why I rarely watch this show, Gruen, on ABC TV… For me, it’s like going back to a dirty hospital to catch the disease that took me a long while to shake off… So what happened? How did we get there? 

The Art Gallery of New South Wales has an exhibition of Japanese art: Japan supernatural - Walking with gods. It’s ugly as sin. It has mostly been sanitised on white walls that attract flies and Chinese tourist hordes with newfangled iPhones programs that animate the still pictures into an arm-waving cartoon. You know the caper. You see it in all Chinese shops, the Japanese ceramic (now plastic) cat waving at you for good luck to the merchants. If you are their first customer of the day, you might even get a discount for good luck (the merchants') as well. 

I am lost for words. The devil is an angel that got so bored with bliss that it decided to spice the life of god — who possibly was Himself (god is a male) trying to have a bit of active fun on the side… Without action, eternal bliss is more deadly that death itself. Life, even that of a god, is funny that way. Perfection is a killer. God had no choice but to fuck Himself (god is a male). He did a great job at it by inventing Lucifer...

So I have this book found in one of the local street libraries. It's by Samuel Putnam. It’s about American exiles living in Paris in between the two world wars and their interaction with the arts in the middle of their -ism revolutions. Picasso, like many of his fellow artists, had joined the communist party (Putnam was a leftist), who at the time represented a social vision of "people for the people". It soon turned ugly. Like a blissful god, communism had to create its own demons… People are not that smart and the smarter psychopaths tend to acquire the loot.

"Ecoute, mon vieux,” he said to me “qu’est-ce qu’il y a de cassé?” Samuel translate this as “Listen, old man, what the hell’s the matter?” In fact mon vieux means my (old) friend and the word “cassé” means BROKEN. Broken… Yes, we try to survive… As we get older, the mega quality control mechanism inside each of our billions of cells eventually break down. No god, no demon — just life as it is. 

Die krähen schrein
Und ziehen schwirren Flugs zur Stadt:
Bald wird et schnein
Weh dem, der keine Heimat hat!

The crows shriek
And into town are together flocking:
Soon it will be snowing
And the homeless will freak!


Gus Leonisky

Existentialist sphinx...

the pillars of society...


deleting donald to make room for commercials...

Canada's national broadcaster CBC has defended deleting a scene featuring Donald Trump from the film Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson said eight minutes of the 120-minute film had been trimmed to make way for commercials.

He said the edits were made before Mr Trump was elected as US president, and were not politically motivated.

The edited film was shown by CBC earlier this month, prompting criticism from Mr Trump's supporters.

His son Donald Trump Jr tweeted a link to a story on Thursday that called the edit 'pathetic'.


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free opera...

Paris Opera musicians on strike over unpopular pension reform plans proposed by the French government delighted passers-by with a free New Year’s Eve concert on the steps outside the Bastille opera house.

In the Tuesday evening show, the musicians performed classics like the Dance of the Night from Sergei Prokofiev’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and Damnation of Faust by Hector Berlioz, as well as offering a rousing rendition of La Marseillaise, France's national anthem.

The striking musicians are covered by one of France's 42 individual pension schemes, which President Emmanuel Macron's government is trying to streamline into one cohesive system. Under the new plan, opera employees would lose their right to early retirement.

One musician told the crowd before the free concert began that opera employees "still refuse to participate in any parody of negotiations," France24 reported.


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Meanwhile Macron dreams of universal retirement age while making concessions for many professions... Should you be a useless slave in a salt mine, you will die before you get your cake... Should you be a parliamentarian, you're like a kid in a free lolly shop.



stories of two famous painters...

Matisse and Picasso only met once. It was at Gertrude Stein’s place and they ignored each other. 

They can’t stand each others” commented a funny Missia Sert (Maria Zofia Olga Zenajda Godebska) — a pianist of Polish descent who hosted an artistic salon in Paris. She was a patron and friend of many artists, for whom she regularly posed.

Sick, Matisse had found god via a Catholic nurse, possibly of the Dominican Order. To thank her, he conceived his grand metaphysical work — a chapel of the rosary that was built and decorated between 1947 and 1951. 

Despite his love of fauvish garish colours, it seems that Matisse loved black, primarily… His answer to Renoir is telling. Renoir:

"How do you, Matisse, splatter so much of a cruel black at the beginning of your paintings? If I did the same thing, all [my] ideas would vanish…"

"It’s inexplicable. I exist only through this black.” answered Matisse.

One of Matisse first job was to “paint” long decorative garlands of leaves to glorify the new Trans Siberian Railway, with his friend, Marquet, nicknamed Jambon (ham) while Matisse was nicknamed “le Docteur” (the doctor)… slaving away, all for a few cents per hour...

"My wife talks and writes. I only know how to paint” said Marquet.

Yet, Albert Marquet wrote once in his life. It was a letter to Santa Claus asking for a paint set for Christmas… His dad, a railway worker, obliged, despite his very low wages, as they only ate lentils day after day, no bread. Growing up, Albert was alone, poor and aimless, yet he lived in Bordeaux, a magnificent city with a great harbour. Marquet soon fell in love with the water, the bridges, the magic of the quays, the tugboats, the barges… But when his dad died, his mother sold her small family house in Arcachon where Albert looked after cows, to set up a button shop in a bustling populous street, Paris…

We are indiscrete painters” said Marquet to Matisse in 1905, in regard to their bright colours… 

Marquet, In search of a contract with an agent, was advised by Matisse to "speak with Stavisky"...

Serge Alexandre Stavisky was a "financial consultant”. 

Stavisky was a wheeler and dealer, launderer of stolen jewellery, and, later on, a manipulator of funds, a seller of fraudulent bonds through the Crédit Municipal in Bayonne. A theatre impresario in Paris, a casino gambler, he was also a purchaser of influence with the press, the police, and politicians. Stavisky had an extravagant lifestyle and a constant desire to impress.

Towards the end of his short life, Stavisky exploited the beauty of his glamorous wife Arlette to lure funds from a Spanish fascist.  He told contradictory tall tales to friends about events in his past, and showed political idealism — which might have been more a means to create new webs of deception.

The circumstances leading to his mysterious death in 1934, gave rise to a political scandal known as the Stavisky Affair, which led to fatal riots in Paris, the resignation of two prime ministers and a change of government.

Paint this…

Meanwhile Marquet was never available for interviews about his art. He was always “out”. But he rarely went out, except to play chess — a game at which he excelled — and to see Charlie Chaplin movies, where he cried… His motto was that “a painter must never indulge in seduction of the viewer” whatever this means. He refused the Légion d’Honneur medal, or even a chair at the College de France.

When Matisse got his Légion's gong, he got a congratulatory card from Helsinki, signed by many admiring women… Matisse was chuffed to be known in Finland by so many sheilas. The card actually had come from Mrs Marquet, Albert’s wife, as a joke...


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NB: Stavisky affair, French financial scandal of 1933 that, by triggering right-wing agitation, resulted in a major crisis in the history of the Third Republic (1870–1940).
The scandal came to light in December 1933 when the bonds of a credit organization in Bayonne, founded by the financier Alexandre Stavisky, proved worthless. When Stavisky was found dead in January 1934, police officials said that he had committed suicide. Members of the French right believed, however, that Stavisky had been killed to prevent revelation of a scandal that would involve prominent people, including ministers and members of the legislature. Attempts by the government to hush up the affair encouraged popular belief in the essential corruption of the parliamentary regime. The flourishing antirepublican leagues, principally the fascistlike Action Française and the Croix de Feu, led popular demonstrations in hopes of overthrowing the regime. These agitations, which culminated in the riot of Feb. 6, 1934, in which 15 persons were killed outside the Chamber of Deputies, were sufficiently widespread to force the resignations of two successive prime ministers of the ruling left-wing coalition. But the establishment of a centre government of national union under former president Gaston Doumergue in February 1934 restored confidence and ended the threat to the republic.
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Any parallel with the Epstein suicide...? Oh and by the way, Serge Alexandre Stavisky was born in Ukraine...

artemisia gentileschi and feminista revisionism...

Woke Yale stops teaching ‘problematic’ European art canon, proving we no longer deserve the classics

by Alexander Adams

Alexander Adams is a British artist, poet and critic. He has published several books of fiction and poetry. His book ‘
Culture War: Art, Identity Politics and Cultural Entryism’ (2019) is published by Societas. His art is in museum collections worldwide.

Yale University is abandoning one of its core courses, a comprehensive survey of 700+ years of Western art. It has been deemed too Western, white, and male – and now the art canon gets thrown under the woke bus.

Yale University has announced that it is scrapping the course “Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present”. This course is an overview of the development of Western art, forming a handy survey of the visual culture of Europe and North America. 

From this autumn, the course will be discontinued despite being popular and oversubscribed. Some students expressed disappointment, stating that the current course is a valuable primer in culture.

Course tutor Tim Barringer said: I don’t mistake a history of European painting for the history of all art in all places. He also called the teaching of Western art history in isolation as “problematic”. In effect, Yale believes a course about Western culture is too Western. Barringer’s statement echoes that of the director of undergraduate studies, Marisa Bass, who said: “There has never been just one story of the history of art.”

Rather than teach one that does not fit the multicultural outlook of American university teachers, Yale has decided to abandon the most effective method of comprehending and memorising Western art. Instead it will teach thematic courses.

Yale is turning its back on the means used for five centuries to frame visual culture, the canon.

The canon is a teaching device, a list of great artwork explaining the development of artistic tradition, selected according to influence, innovation and appreciation. It is used to instruct people through a series of related highlights which are ordered to make a narrative. This has been true since Giorgio Vasari published the first modern history of art, The Lives of the Artists, in 1550. Vasari concluded that book by discussing his friend Michelangelo, portraying the whole history of Italian art as leading to Michelangelo’s genius.

The idea of art being developed incrementally and sequentially to reach an apex of perfection is a touch straightforward but it is not unreasonable to think that Cimabue led to Giotto and Masaccio then, eventually, Michelangelo. It may not be wholly accurate but it is comprehensible and easy to remember. In the same way we have mnemonics to learn the spectrum and sequence of planets, so the canon teaches us an art tradition.

For 500 years, until the 1960s, the system seemed like common sense.

Too white, too male’

When feminists in the 1960s began to complain that history was written by men about men for men, the fine-art canon came into immediate suspicion. Seeing only white Christian male artists, feminists claimed the art reflected a racist, sexist Christian West. Yet their beliefs came from a misunderstanding. Due to historical reasons, women artists had very rarely carved stone or created large oil paintings on religious and historical subjects; therefore there are no women in the pre-modern fine art canon.

Feminists worked backwards, looking at men in the canon and assuming they had been selected due to their sex. Canonical art is revered because of its quality not because of demographic characteristics of creators. Strictly speaking, the canon is only art, not artists.

The most important artist in the Western canon is Leonardo da Vinci – a gay, left-handed, vegetarian atheist – hardly the epitome of majority values.

Changing culture from the inside

For feminists and other social revolutionaries there were three impulses. 1) rewrite the canon by championing neglected female artists, 2) build multiple alternate canons for women, non-white people, non-Europeans, gay people and so on, and 3) destroy the validity of canons. All three courses were pursued simultaneously by different public figures. Writer-teachers Linda Nochlin, Lucy Lippard, and Griselda Pollock built stellar careers working in academia and publishing. They were avowed activists, seeking to change society through disrupting cultural standards, using their positions of influence within the establishment.

Feminists prompted lesser-known artists such as Artemisia Gentileschi and Judith Leyster to be treated as equal to male counterparts; multiple exhibitions, books and university courses addressed the “suppressed stories” of minorities within the arts; Post-Modernists attacked the foundations of judgment and proclaimed that consensus was sublimated force imposing the will of the majority.

Ultimately, this multiple approach induced the crisis visible today. Addition of figures (expansion), inclusion of non-European strands (dilution) and undermining competency hierarchies (discrediting) has crippled Western academies as efficient transmitters of culture. The expanded canon is effectively the death of the canon because it is no longer coherent and comprehensible. This revised canon is unmanageably vast. Impossible to teach, memorise or explain, the expanded, diluted, discredited canon ceases functioning as a reliable guide and it is dropped.

Losing our culture

Teachers at many Western universities are paralysed by a crisis of conscious and terrified of being accused of racism and sexism by woke scolds. The canon is now so weakly defended, poorly understood and timidly taught that Yale finds it easier to abandon the canon than teach it. If a society stops believing its foundational story, it cannot be transmitted to the next generation and culture is lost.

Aren’t the glories of Western civilisation worth more than an embarrassed shrug? If we fail to cherish and explain the greatness of Giotto, Michelangelo, and Rembrandt then we surely no longer deserve them.

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