ART Critique Exhibitions Martha King

Jasper Johns at MOMA

 

Jasper Johns. Untitled. 2013. Ink on plastic. 27 1/2 × 36" (69.9 × 91.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Promised gift from a private collection. © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photograph: Jerry Thompson

Jasper Johns. Untitled. 2013. Ink on plastic. 27 1/2 × 36″ (69.9 × 91.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Promised gift from a private collection. © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photograph: Jerry Thompson

First, take your time.

A large painting hangs dead center in the first room of this exhibit.  Dimensions aren’t given on the wall sign, but the press kit lists 67” x 96”.  This painting is central and all the other works dance in variating attendance on it, playing off and playing with it. It’s a stopper. Not just the deaths head in the upper middle, but as you look, the two women, the haunted magician, the grimacing masks, the wings, the eggs, the northern shivering lake — and these are what I saw in just a few minutes in just one visit, and just in the central middle top of the great “Regrets” 2013.

Take your time.  Johns paints what we don’t see – exactly what Barry Schwabsky once said to Basil King about Basil’s work.

When we arrived a serious young man was seated on the bench facing this painting, writing rapidly in a small notebook.

Johns has the authority to demand his viewers take the time.  The one-hit wowser, illuminating or titillating, is somewhere else at MOMA.  In here, grays in quietly manic variety, via quietly grey inks, water colors, pencils, chalks, charcoals, here color gets a quick laugh, but there is always more.  Blotches, scratches, hatching.  Delicate precision lines and wide swatches of splash. Paper. Plastic. Canvas.

Neckties • villages • aerial views of suburb landscapes • windows • rooftops • Swift changes of proportion • huge chairs and a bed • tiny dark boxes • glinting mirrors.

One needs time to unpack it like a really great poem. And Johns packs it in, going over and over ways to never repeat.

In some versions the visitors’ faces are shielded; they sit opposite the man who sits with hands in front of his face. Sometimes these doubles disappear completely into the material, both always and never abstract.  Sometimes there is only the man on the bed.  Lucien Freud. Is he mocked by Francis Bacon? Is he competing with Jasper Johns? Is Jasper Johns outdoing him? Is this an art-world palindrome: paintings and etchings springing from the crumpled remains of a print of a 1964 photograph taken by British photographer John Deakin, and retrieved from Bacon’s studio floor, then enshrined in its torn up form in a photograph that appeared in Christie’s auction catalog?  This mangled print is on display here, meaning, I’m guessing, that Johns bought it from the auction, after all its travels.  Breaking, crumpling, dividing, varying.

How many ways can an artist mine a single image?   The answer is not here; the work goes on, Johns’ work and ours. We will need to come back again and look again. Call and response – a change and a change again.  How many times can someone sign with an unchanging rubber stamp? Is it mocking or reaffirming? Or is it simply the joy of the stamp’s calligraphy?

Someone once defined art as something that has to be looked at again and again, because it can deliver something else, something more, over time.  This is very opposite of propaganda or illustration, standing as they do exactly in the moment.

When we left, the serious young man was sitting opposite the ultimate painting, still writing rapidly in his small notebook.

JASPER JOHNS, Regrets.  2013. Watercolor, charcoal, and pastel on paper, 31 ½” x 46 7/8”  (80 x 119 cm) The Museum of Modern Art, New York.  Promised gift of Marie-Josee and Hanry R. Kravis. ©Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photograph: Jerry Thompson.

JASPER JOHNS, Regrets. 2013. Watercolor, charcoal, and pastel on paper, 31 ½” x 46 7/8” (80 x 119 cm) The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Promised gift of Marie-Josee and Hanry R. Kravis. ©Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photograph: Jerry Thompson.

The exhibition is up until September 1.  There is time to visit again. As noted on the captions some of these works have been promised as gifts to the museum. So they are promised to be around again.

 

 

Martha King News Prose Readings

Martha King published in new anthology

 

Wreckage of Reason: Back to the Drawing Board

Wreckage of Reason: Back to the Drawing Board

I’m one of 29 contributors to Wreckage of Reason II subtitled “Back to the Drawing Board.”  (I appear in the original 2008 volume as well.)   The editors say these stories “use different style and genres … to illustrate moments of conflict, amusement, bafflement and joy that make up a day, a year, an individual life or a collective history. Held up to the light or inspected under a microscope, set in locales real, virtual, mythic, and imaginary, characters bump into and move through events, leaving readers with the humorous, sad, sexy and playful ambiguities of what it means to be alive.”

I hope so!  You can hear for yourself if you are in New York City on April 22, when a number of us – I’ll be one of them – read at the book launch:  KGB, 85 East 4th Street 7 – 9pm.

$20. Spuyten Duyvil Press.  Order from the Spuyten Duyvil Storefront:    https://www.createspace.com/4576201

On Amazon you can check out the whole table of contents with all the contributors’ names and order a Kindle edition for $8.

ART Basil King Martha King

Wall of Birds

Wall of birds -- Basil King studio, spring 2014

Wall of birds — Basil King studio, spring 2014

Pushing spring, despite all!

There are now twenty-one views of pigeons in Delacroix’s Garden in Basil King’s studio.  Winter-spring 2013-2014.

Visit     http://www.flickr.com/photos/67642740@N08/sets/72157639449256424/

He’s now moving on to a new series “Visiting Delacroix’s Garden” with…images to come.

Enjoy!

Prose Prose Pros series Readings Writing

Prose Pros presents Lynne Tillman and Lynn Crawford

Literary mischief, bravado inventions from two dazzling writers:  Prose Pros presents Lynne Tillman and Lynn Crawford at SideWalk Café, March 6, at 6:30.  

Lynne Tillman

Lynne Tillman

Lynn Crawford

Lynn Crawford

Lynne Tillman’s fourth collection of stories Someday This Will Be Funny, was published in May 2011. And her second collection of essays, What Would Lynne Tillman Do?, is due this April.

Lynn Crawford of the Green Garage in Detroit wrote Simply Separate People, Two, in 2011. Two new books—a selection of sestinas, The Stubborn Aunt, and a novel, Shankus & Kitto—are due this spring.

Free, but we pass a hat for generous contributions to the readers — Martha King and Elinor Nauen

ART Basil King

Old Man Mad about Paint

Baz in his studio, January 2014.  Since this was taken, the painting on the left has been changed....

Baz in his studio, January 2014. Since this was taken, the painting on the left has been changed….

 

Look out whippersnappers. An old man is coming, his brushes are loaded, and he’s got birds on the brain!  There  are many birds on view in his studio in Brooklyn, by invitation, this year.   Use this link for samples on Flickr.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/67642740@N08/sets/72157639449256424/

Two responses to Basil King’s work

Poets Tim Keane and Madeline Tiger separately considered Basil’s work recently. Madeline’s Reactions to Basil King’s Work is currently being sent to editors for consideration.Tim’s illustrated essay “The Languages of Devotion: Basil King’s Life in Art” published last August, is available online in the Hyperallergic archive.

http://hyperallergic.com/76917/languages-of-devotion-basil-kings-life-in-art/

 

Martha King Prose Pros series Readings

NEWS: Prose Pros presents Jenny Allen and Nancy Giles, February 6

Prose Pros is me and Elinor Nauen. We’ve been presenting  monthly prose readings for seven years!

Our two readers for February are Jenny Allen (New Yorker columnist) and Nancy Giles (CBS-TV columnist). A first for us: both writers have outstanding stand-up credentials!  At Side Walk Café, 94 Avenue A at 6th Street, NYC, the back room.
Jenny Allen

Jenny Allen

Nancy Giles

Nancy Giles

 Here’s a taste from Jenny Allen’s “The Trouble with Nature” in the The New Yorker’s “Shouts & Murmurs”:

“A lot of people who live in the city like to visit the country to get close to nature. Then, once they are in the country, they find that they needn’t go outdoors to get close to nature. Nature comes right inside, as if to prove some kind of point. . . . Sometimes, there is this black thing hanging from the kitchen ceiling. It is the exact size and shape of a charcoal briquette, and you wonder what a charcoal briquette is doing up there. On closer inspection, it turns out that it is not a charcoal briquette. It’s a bat, hanging upside down. . Its little body is covered in fur, which many people find distressing. This is a creature that flies, and it is as unsettling for a flying thing to have fur as it would be for a hard-boiled egg, or a rose petal, to have it.”

And here’s a hint of what to expect from CBS commentator Nancy Giles.  She started her career portraying a singing bag of garbage and playing Santa at New York City’s Macy’s on 34th Street. She toured for three years with the Second City comedy troupe, and has appeared off-Broadway, on TV, and in more than a dozen movies.  Now she can be found on CBS TV on Sunday mornings. And she has a  plan:  “I want to make people laugh and I want to entertain them, but I also want to provoke thought and discussion.”

Prose Pros is FREE, with a one drink minimum (or purchase a munchie). We pass a hat for contributions, all of which goes to the readers.

Basil King Martha King Writing

Comments on Amiri Baraka

 

Amiri and Baz at the Poetry Project, February 17, 2013. Photo by Pierre Joris.

Amiri and Baz at the Poetry Project, February 17, 2013. Photo by Pierre Joris.

Above, Amiri and Baz at the Poetry Project, February 17, 2013.  Below, LeRoi and Baz and Gil Sorrentino,  May,  1963, excerpt from Learning to Draw, A History, Basil King, Skylight Press, 2011:

It was crowded in McSorley’s. All the bartenders knew Leroi Jones, Gil

Sorrentino and Basil King. From one of the tables racial slurs were being

directed at Leroi. There was no mistaking what the cops from New Jersey

were saying. The cops were without their wives and girlfriends. They felt

entitled to say anything they wanted and there was no one who could stop

them. They didn’t have any jurisdiction but that wasn’t stopping them

and if they didn’t know it they were inciting not only the three of us they

were pissing off most of the clientele. They were told to stop by one of the

bartenders. They didn’t.

 

Was it Gil was it Leroi was it someone else. Movies always tell and show

who started it. Gil was a large man I’m a few inches taller than Roi (Amiri

Baraka) what I remember is a free-for-all arms chairs and fists and in the

midst of it I heard Brian the bartender croaking “Gil it’s me, Brian.” Gil had

his hands around Brian’s throat and he was choking him. Did the police

come I don’t remember but the New Jersey cops who had demonstrated

what they were made of went back to New Jersey. Gil was licking his

knuckles and he went home.

 

Martha wasn’t home she was visiting her parents in North Carolina I went

with Roi back to his house and we climbed the stairs and told our story to

Hettie. Big Hettie is what my kids called Hettie Jones at that time she was

taller than her namesake our daughter Hetty. Big Hettie got the iodine,

band-aids cleaned the two of us up and I stayed and slept on their couch.

 Pause

Yes. Pause.  As we all go on.

ART Basil King Exhibitions Garden Martha King

The Pigeons of Winter 2013

Baz has been moving across and back from abstract to figures again. There will be pigeon paintings on canvas this winter. For a look at numbers 1 to 8, copy this link into your browser:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/67642740@N08/sets/72157639449256424/show/with/11782313344/

These eight are all mixed media on paper, 26” x 40,”  November and December 2013.  (The media are ink, charcoal, library chalk, and oils.)   We put number seven on a New Year greeting emailed to many friends.

Number 1

Number 1

 

Number 8

Number 8

Pigeons have been appearing in Basil King works ever since Mulch Magazine in 1970, when he photographed the flock living in the triangle behind old Cooper Union as well as single birds sitting on benches in Central Park. From the seventies on, pigeons do turn up.  This November 2013, he and I visited the Delacroix museum in Paris, which is simply Delacroix’s home and studio, nicely preserved.  A domestic and workspace setup of consummate elegance, simplicity, and grace.  And in his garden, yes, a pigeon.What show his 40 years of bird work would make!

The studio in Delacroix's back yard, Paris, 2013

The studio in Delacroix’s back yard, Paris, 2013

And one of the birds.

And one of the birds.